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Unrelated to anything newsworthy, but a thought:

If you were a potential candidate running for office in one of two districts, and District A had a middle-class incumbent and District B had a rich incumbent, you might be more inclined to run in District A. And I think you’d be right. But probably for the wrong reasons.

You might not want to run against the rich incumbent because they have lots of money. I think this isn’t correct. A middle-class candidate will still have incumbency power and party and interest-group networks that will allow them to raise a lot of money, so in terms to resources aligned against you, I doubt it makes a very big difference. In fact, donors may be less willing to give to a self-funded candidate so probably a wash.

But look at the incentives facing each incumbent. District A’s incumbent has, say, a house and two cars and 2.5 kids and a spouse and the kids need to go to college and the second car is broken and the spouse got sick and the house is broken. If they lose, that will suck; but there are many a comfy sinecure waiting for former office-holders, so they may end up getting a raise if they lose. The revolving door is their golden parachute.

District B’s incumbent, on the other hand, is rich. They retired as CEO of their Fortune 500 company and have enough money to set half on fire and still buy a small country. If they lose…well, they’ll find something to do, but there’s no upside in it. They’re in politics strictly for the game. And because all their upside is on staying in office, they might fight a lot harder and a lot nastier to stay in office.

Not sure this is borne out empirically, but a thought.

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